Hyouka 02: It’s elementary, my dear Chitanda

Oh God, yes.

Also, spoilers ahead, so if you don’t want the mystery ruined, go watch the episode first.

I absolutely adore these simple mysteries. There’s no need to invent a villain with an overly complicated, unsustainable plan for world domination when the little curiosities will do.

Watching Houtarou’s overly stylized thought processes fill me with disproportionate glee.

Sure, I’ve always liked overly stylized thought processes.  It’s just that they’re often a SHAFT thing, and SHAFT usually does it for the sake of being, well, SHAFTy. The difference here is that KyoAni did it to provide a visual image to kickstart/accompany the viewer’s own train of logic.

I.e. SHAFT uses visual style to confound/tease/annoy, KyoAni uses visual style to guide/direct.

Not that all SHAFT anime is screwy, mind you; but it’s nice to have funky art effects to decrease confusion, instead of increasing it, for a change.

My minor gripe is Houtarou giving a summary of the given information. It makes it seem as if the viewers are too slow-witted to keep track of Houtarou’s already blatant observations. But if it weren’t for the summary, I wouldn’t have gotten that last vital clue.

This is my major gripe: that my mental processes were stonewalled because I wasn’t aware that Japanese schools have shared art classes. It’s something that the average Japanese viewer would know, not a filthy barbarian gaijin.

But I still love it. It’s the sort of thing I’d throw into a mystery: a little relevant factoid that is public information and just requires some thought to integrate it into the solution.

The solution is elegant, obvious, and would have been easily found, even if Houtarou’s initial guess was off.

This is where I fanboy over Houtarou for a bit.

In his position, I’d bet that a great deal of people would have stood/sat there, trying to come up with the exact solution to the mystery before heading off to confirm their hypotheses. It’s what all the great fictional detectives do – sit, think, and dazzle everyone with their precise prediction.

While Houtarou started off towards the arts room even though he still hadn’t come to a conclusion. But this is the clever part – he’d already narrowed down the location to one specific room. He didn’t need to guess what the girls had done with the book – all he needed to do was go to the place where they’d been, and the solution would present itself.

For the record, my hypothesis was built on the book’s size and sturdiness. I thought the girls were using the book as a canvas because the texture of the cover might have provided an interesting art effect.

What troubled me early on in the episode was that Houtarou was perfectly fine with coming up with a false explanation to keep Eru happy.

Oh, it’s something I’d do too, and it’s something I’ve done many, many times to keep people off my back. But from the perspective of a viewer, I really do want to know the actual circumstances behind the mystery.

Eru intrigues me, though. I’m pretty sure she wants Houtarou to teach her the art of deductive reasoning or lateral thinking or something along those lines. And I approve of that. It’s just that she’s done well for herself through memory, rote-learning and hard work. Most people wouldn’t want to change anything if their results were consistently highly ranked.

I would like to see Houtarou coming up with more ways to trick Eru, don’t get me wrong.

But even if Satoshi had to trap him into doing so, and even though Houtarou could have simply refused Eru point-blank, he didn’t take the easy way out, and we all got our happy resolution to this week’s mystery.

Episode rating:

5 out of 5 pleasantly surprised Jim Moriarty’s

“I see. You’re not ordinary… …Thank you. Bless you.”

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  1. skylion
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    ::screaming hissy fanboy orgasm over creative use of Jim Moriarty::

    • Posted April 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      Sooner or later, I’m going to turn my critical eye on Sherlock. It’s inevitable~

  2. MarcosV
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m enjoying the detail that’s gone into the first three episodes. The visualization of a menu choice between “colorful” and “drab” was great — especially if it represents how Houtarou sees what he wants and what Eru is pushing him towards. It’s shows a lot of self-awareness on his part.

    I’m also wondering about the visuals that KyoAni is putting on how Houtarou interprets things with the emphasis on words coming off of pages, Eru being overpowering. I’m wondering if he has a special talent or was he mentally broken from over exposure of females with overwhelming personalities (e.g., his older sister?)

    At any rate, I’m seeing this show as a great laid back show that fits the “slice of life” category: no huge plot to worry over; just enjoy each episode for what what it is.

    • Posted May 1, 2012 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      Houtarou’s not being overwhelmed, he’s just practising the path of least resistance.

      Oh, and I’m seeing the visuals as great laid back visuals; just enjoy each visual for what it is ;D

  3. DarkFireBlade25
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    I see you are using some other sub besides gg. gg’s are better. Confirmed by multiple sources. Just a tip ;)

    I have to say that hyouka is the most engaging of the recent spring season and has not one dull moment or a moment wasted. Each and every scene is devoted to characterization or the plot itself which is wonderful.

    Planning on doing any more of these? :D

  4. petitorenji
    Posted April 30, 2012 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

    Chitanda is like a Haruhi-Asahina hybrid, with the ignorant selfishness of Haruhi and the high-pitched moe voice of the latter. The “I can’t stop thinking about it” is even worse. It’s like one of Haruhi’s motto “I think, I want, you do” kind of logic. Chitanda is really into mysteries but never starts solving it on her own. It’s always, “I can’t stop thinking about it, so you must now think about it too and figure it out for me!”

    And like Kyon, the Houtarou shounen acts all irritated while he’s obviously still “interested,” as he pointed out in the previous episode. I hope this is not one of Kyon’s “it was fun” conclusion, with the paradox of despising almost everything that goes on when he’s with her, but feeling that somehow at the end of it, all of that annoyance coming together makes it pleasurable. It’s almost mildly masochistic. I’d bet Kyon subconsciously receives subtle pleasure from getting verbally abused by Haruhi too.

    The only thing that’s keeping me here is the superb animation/production quality. The lighting and set designs are incredible. But I want to see Chitanda genuinely upset, not just melancholic. Like how I wanted Kyon to be be forcibly taken away from Haruhi temporarily just to see how Haruhi would cope, I want to see Houtaru be taken away from Chitanda temporarily.

    Oh, and it looks like we have our Sunohara now.

    • Posted May 1, 2012 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      I can’t really think of Eru as selfish because she’s just so nice and polite whenever she’s not in her KININARIMASU mode.

      As it is, I think the 4 protagonists are each taking a facet of a stereotypical detective character. Satoshi gets the flawless memory, Houtarou gets the deductive reasoning. I just hope Eru progresses as a character and isn’t just the facet that noses around and constantly gets into trouble.

      Still, I think Houtarou’s going to enjoy himself, sooner or later. It’s the typical route for the loner archetype, and I don’t think I’ve seen a subversion, ever.

      • DarkFireBlade25
        Posted May 1, 2012 at 7:57 am | Permalink

        Eru serves as the one who notices things a lot. She gathers all the info. She also seems to have a ridiculous memory too. Still dunno what the last one is suppose to do…

      • petitorenji
        Posted May 2, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

        Ah… that’s right, another parallel to Haruhi: It seems that Chitanda is also able to seamlessly and effortlessly gather people who will stimulate and entertain her KININARIMASU mode.

  5. Bob from Accounting
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Still waiting for this to go somewhere. It’s pretty. It’s kinda amusing but it feels like there’s something great that’s JUST AROUND THE CORNER. I hope I’m not disappointed.

  6. Daniel S.
    Posted May 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    I will watch this, but mainly because you’re reviewing it.
    How did your exam go?! :D

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